Attorney General Marty Jackley is no longer subpoenaing a Sioux Falls newspaper reporter to testify in the criminal case against a marijuana entrepreneur helping the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe open a marijuana resort.
The Argus Leader’s Dana Ferguson is a state government and politics reporter for the paper. She went on a tour of the marijuana facility in 2015 with other media and state lawmakers. That’s why Attorney General Marty Jackley’s office wanted to subpoena the reporter, to verify information she gathered on the tour.
— Dana Ferguson (@bydanaferguson) May 15, 2017
David Bordewyk is with the South Dakota Newspaper Association. He says journalists resist testifying in court.
“As journalists we’re there to do a job, to cover and report the news as we see it and report that to the public. To our readers, to our listeners, to our viewers," Bordewyk says. "Not there on behalf of law enforcement or government… It’s important for journalists to have the independence.”
Not every witness that’s subpoenaed may have to testify.
Attorney general Marty Jackley says in his 17 years as a prosecutor he’s always avoided having a journalist testify in court.
“Because it creates a lot of issues. It can create First Amendment issues and it can create resource issues. If a reporter’s testified they can no longer cover the event," Jackely says. "So, typically, the attorneys are able to work through those issues. The trial is scheduled, but certainly the testimony hasn’t started. We’re continuing to work with the Argus to allow other witnesses to hopefully get some of that same information in.”
Jackley wouldn’t elaborate on what that information is. The case is against two Colorado based marijuana consultants. One of them, Eric Hagen, has pleaded not-guilty to charges of marijuana possession. His trial is set for May 22.
The Argus Leader could not be reached for comment.